Pay Our Interns was founded by two former unpaid interns, Carlos Mark Vera and Guillermo Creamer Jr. Together, both Carlos and Guillermo were interns in five different offices, including the House of Representatives, the White House, the D.C. Mayor, and the European Parliament. In September of 2016, the two shared their internship stories and realized that their hardship was a similar one. With the launch of the Pay Our Interns Facebook page in October 2016, the two quickly noticed that this social media campaign was going to be so much more than that. Within just a few weeks of launch, the campaign caught the attention of thousands of young adults and a few media outlets. Weeks after the 2016 presidential election, the two shifted the focus of the campaign to that of a non-profit. After a series personal meetings, phone calls, and email exchanges, by June 2017, a first of its kind Congressional Report titled Experience Doesn’t Pay the Bills listed which members of Congress paid and which did not. The report was received and shared by various news outlets highlighting the abysmal number of members who offered paid internships. This report provided the small team a threshold on what changes they wanted to see in Congress.
One year from publishing the report, Pay Our Interns worked with various offices, doubling the number of Senate Democrats who offered paid internships and increasing the number of Senate Republicans as well. Alongside these increases, the group also inserted themselves in the DNC Chair race and worked with each candidate to pledge their support in offering a paid internship program if elected. By the beginning of June 2018, the Pay Our Interns team had successfully worked with the DNC, DCCC, and several Senate offices to help create their paid internship programs. Alongside a group of bipartisan legislators, the team worked to help create the first ever internship fund allocation for the Senate at a healthy $5 million fund. A few weeks after a successful partnership with the Senate, the team worked with a group of bipartisan legislators on the House side and successfully secured $8.8 Million in intern funding. On October 3rd, 2018, the President of the United States signed a minibus budget that included $13.8 million in funding for an internship program in Congress.
Carlos Mark Vera, Co-Founder, Executive Director
Carlos Mark Vera is the Co-Founder and current Executive Director of Pay Our Interns. Originally from Colombia, Vera was raised in California until he moved to Washington, D.C. to attend American University. While at AU, Vera was an unpaid intern at the White House, the European Parliament, and the House of Representatives. He knows firsthand the struggles of trying to survive while interning for free. Under his leadership, POI successfully convinced Congress to pass more than $31million in funding for interns and has helped nonprofits, companies, and presidential campaigns create their internship programs.
Carlos’s efforts on Capitol Hill led him to be named a Forbes 30 Under 30 Honoree, Echoing Green Fellow, Camelback Ventures Fellow, a Top 20 Changemaker by NBC Latino, and an Aspen Ideas Fellow. He has been featured in The Washington Post, NPR’s All Things Considered, The New York Times, CNN and The Atlantic. He has also written for The Washington Post, Teen Vogue, USA Today, and NBC Latino. Carlos proudly served in the Army Reserves as a mechanic for 8 years.
Aalayah Eastmond, Research and Development Intern
Aalayah is a 2019 graduated from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida. On February 14th, 2018, she was in the third classroom attacked by a gunman who would go on to murder 17 students and staff. Since then, Aalayah has stepped up to speak out on gun violence in America. She has been specifically vocal around the chronic gun violence that affects young African Americans daily. This is particularly important to her because her uncle was shot and killed in Brooklyn 16 years ago. She has spoken at March for Our Lives, as well as testified before the Senate and House Judiciary Committees. Aalayah is 19 and currently a full scholar sophomore at Trinity Washington University. She is a Nonprofit Organizer as well as a core organizer and co-founder of Concerned Citizens DC in the frontlines of protests.
Rose Lopez, Outreach and Programs Associate
Mario Sanguinet, Research and Communication Specialist
Mario has worked on local economic development issues like, Smart Cities, Urban Agriculture and San Diego’s Creative Economy. Since 2014 he has been teaching college students how to become better humans by focusing on their relationship and public speaking skills. He has been researching the college-to-career connection for 5 years. Occasionally, he writes about San Diego’s arts and culture. He graduated with a bachelors, cum laude, and masters in Communication from San Diego State University.
William A. Powers, Of Counsel
Shontrice Barnes, Research Fellow
Shontrice is a second-year graduate student at the George Washington University in the Public Policy with Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies program. She received her B.A. in Political Science and African American Studies from the Virginia Commonwealth University, where she also minored in Gender Studies. As a Black feminist, Shontrice’s research interests are rooted in understanding how the marginalization of communities of color is written into policy and how to reverse it. With a specific interest in civil rights, social/welfare, and economic policy, Shontrice hopes to engage in research that seeks to heal past policies that have further marginalized communities of color. Shontrice is also an organizer with BYP100 DC Chapter and is dedicated to the liberation of Black people and all marginalized communities.
Brittney Jimenez, Research Fellow
Brittney is a current Master’s student at Cal State Northridge studying the Chicana and Chicano Studies Department. She received her B.A. in Chicano/Latino Studies and a minor in Psychology from the University of California, Irvine. Her research discusses youth involvement in contemporary social movements and their continued political engagement. Previously she has interned for IGNITE National, The Feminist Majority Foundation, Congresswoman Katie Porter’s Office, and the Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute.
Mark Antonio Williams, Research Fellow
Mark is starting a graduate program at the Fletcher School of Tufts University where he will be focusing on International Security and Public International Law. He received an undergraduate degree in International Studies and German from Butler University. After that, he became a Coro Fellow, a nine-month program in which fellows are immersed in public affairs by working on different projects with non-profits, government, and/or the private sector. He previously was a Congressional Black Caucus Foundation Intern in the Office of Rep. Ayanna Pressley.
Arielle Geismar, Communications and Social Media Associate
Sadé Green, Writing and Communications Interns
Sadé is a Sophomore at Stonehill College in Easton, MA. She is studying Political Science and pursuing interests in Sociology and Anthropology. As an active member of her community, and previously part of Rep. Ayanna Pressley’s Youth Advisory Council, Sadé channels her own experiences to fuel her fight for equitable education for Black girls and rights for people of color. In working with POI she hopes to expand her knowledge and help bring justice to interns and young people nationwide.